Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Doctors, retailers square off

The building conflict between physicians and pharmacy/retail medical offices in the United States seemed somewhat inevitable. I notice some definite parallels between this debate the pharmacist prescribing debate in Alberta. Physician claims of conflict of interest and safety to the public are countered by suggestions that docs are just trying to protect their exclusive domain.

From the Chicago Tribune:
In an attempt to ratchet up scrutiny on the proliferation of in-store clinics being opened by retail giants, the American Medical Association said Monday that it will ask state and federal agencies to launch widespread investigations into the fast-growing patient-care model.

The AMA's policymaking House of Delegates, meeting in Chicago, said lack of regulation at retail clinics might be fostering liability concerns, health risks and potential conflicts of interest between the clinics' nurse practitioners who order prescriptions and the pharmacies that fill them. Often, the clinic is near the pharmacy counter in those retail stores.

The AMA, the nation's largest doctor group, is reacting to moves by retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Deerfield-based Walgreen Co. that will effectively bring several thousand retail clinics to U.S. consumers in the coming years. One retail clinic operator run by giant CVS/Caremark Corp. was concerned enough about the AMA's clout on the issue that it deployed an executive here to defend its interests.

AMA action on such topics means the group and its affiliated state societies will push for increased regulation and attempt to slow the growth of the clinics. One clinic operator said Monday the AMA's move would do just that and have an adverse effect by slowing a new concept that increases patient access to medical care and offers patients a convenient option.

"Our primary focus is patient safety and patient care, and the retail clinics have a different mission of selling products and prescriptions," said Dr. Rodney Osborn, a Peoria anesthesiologist who is president of the Illinois State Medical Society, an AMA delegation among the most outspoken on scrutiny of retail clinics. "We want these clinics to be accountable." ...more

No comments: